Two female veterinarians examining a large dog
Veterinarian checking a dog's heartbeat with a stethoscope

Career Paths to Take With a DVM Degree

Sep 08, 2021

A private veterinary practice isn't the only veterinary career option available to newly minted vets.  There are many exciting veterinarian career paths for Doctors of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) to impact public health, participate in ground-breaking research, teach future veterinarians, volunteer for humanitarian organizations, or manage their very own veterinary practice.

Alternative jobs with a veterinary degree to consider include the government, military, corporate, management, academia, or consultancy positions. Let’s take a closer look at some of the DVM careers that await you after graduation.

Career Opportunities in Veterinary Medicine

Clinical Jobs

Many veterinarians choose a clinical veterinarian career path, either as a general practitioner or a specialist.

A veterinary general practitioner may choose to work in a small animal clinic that serves common household pets, like dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, or even rabbits. Other veterinarians enjoy working with large animals and thrive making house calls to care for sheep, goats, cows, or pigs.

Some DVMs choose to specialize, focusing on a defined group of patients, diseases, skills, or care philosophy. Specialty fields can include acupuncture, behavioral medicine, dermatology, cardiology, dental, radiology, radiation oncology, nutrition, ophthalmology, surgery, and zoological medicine.

As a veterinarian specializes, they may find themselves working at an animal shelter, a veterinary school, a zoo, or performing house calls to care for horses. A veterinarian may decide to work in an exotic animal clinic or with ocean animals at an aquarium.

New veterinary specialties continue to emerge. Sports medicine and rehabilitation veterinarians may work with racehorses, working animals, or even family pets. A specialty called theriogenology involves the management of reproductive disorders and pregnancies in animals.

Government Agency Jobs

Government work is a veterinary career option that can lead to advanced training and the opportunity to positively impact public health.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is the second largest employer of veterinarians in the U.S. Veterinarians and DMV-trained epidemiological researchers ensure that food animals are kept healthy and treated humanely and that all meat, poultry, and egg products are safe to eat.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) employs DVMs in the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) as part of their mission to protect human and animal health. The FDA CVM regulates animal food, medications, and medical devices by conducting research into the safety of these products before approving them for use.

DVMs with research training are needed to anticipate and prevent future animal-to-human disease transmission. The CDC offers fellowship programs for veterinarians interested in epidemiology and front-line work during disease outbreaks, infection control leadership, or laboratory animal medicine.  

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) encourages veterinarians to pursue biomedical research opportunities and offers advanced training programs for students interested in a career in research. Animals and humans share many of the same diseases, creating a need for DVM scientists. Veterinary research efforts can help keep the public safe, especially considering the increasing prevalence of diseases that spread between animals and humans, like Ebola and MERS.

The Air Force and Army offer opportunities for veterinarians to provide care for military animals, such as working dogs and horses. Military veterinarians may also conduct research and work with other government agencies to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe.

Non-Governmental Research Jobs

Non-Governmental research jobs are another veterinarian career path you can take. Veterinary researchers are also needed in the private business sector. DVM scientists work for animal products and pharmaceutical companies, as well as universities.

Did you know, the current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer is a DVM? In fact, he started his career at the global pharmaceutical company in the Animal Health Division as Technical Director of Greece.

Corporate Jobs

Companies employ veterinarians for non-research positions. These positions include sales of animal products and the care of animals used for drug testing. Companies may also hire veterinarians to work in technology, software, and regulatory affairs positions.

Management and Consulting Jobs

DVMs who understand the business side of private practice can manage veterinary clinics . Veterinarians can also serve as consultants for the livestock industry and other businesses that represent or work with or on behalf of animals.

Academic Teaching Jobs

Of course, there will always be a need for veterinary medicine and veterinary technician school faculty, including specialists and researchers. These positions may include research, classroom, and clinical roles.

Other Jobs

This is not an exhaustive list of veterinarian career paths. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), state veterinary associations, veterinary diagnostic labs, international animal health agencies, and veterinary practice publications and publishers are among the many career opportunities open to DVMs.

A DVM degree can open the door to multiple diverse opportunities for a meaningful career. RUSVM provides an accelerated, broad-based curriculum that integrates classroom study, research, and hands-on training. Take the next step on your path to becoming a veterinarian: apply for admission to Ross Vet.

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